Multisystem inflammatory syndrome causes the blood vessels, including coronary arteries, to become inflamed. It's similar to toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, a rare disease in children.
In New York City, 15 kids are currently hospitalized with the illness. Most of them have or have had a rash, vomiting, or diarrhea, in addition to the internal inflammation. Almost all have required blood pressure support and five wound up having to be placed on a ventilator. All have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.
As of this writing, none of the children sickened with the syndrome have died.
On Monday, health officials in the city released a bulletin warning pediatricians and other practitioners that not much is known about the illness.
"The full spectrum of disease is not yet known," the bulletin read in part.
Dr. Oxiris Barbot, New York City's health commissioner, noted that -- though the children presenting with this disease have tested positive for coronavirus -- at this time a link between the inflammatory illness and COVID-19 has not been scientifically established.
"Even though the relationship of this syndrome to Covid-19 is not yet defined, and not all of these cases have tested positive for Covid-19 by either DNA test or serology, the clinical nature of this virus is such that we are asking all providers to contact us immediately if they see patients who meet the criteria we've outlined," she said.
Further, she advised parents to call their child's doctor right away if they are experiencing fever, rash, abdominal pain, or vomiting.
As of this writing, several unanswered questions remain about the nature of the illness. For example, it's not clear if it is limited to children in New York City, or even if the children currently hospitalized are the only ones in the area to have developed such symptoms. It may be that only the sickest kids have been reported.
This manifestation of the COVID-19 pandemic was first observed in Europe. As reported at the time by The Inquisitr, in late April, doctors in the United Kingdom began observing children turning up in hospitals with the same illness. The sickened British kids all presented with similar symptoms to those of the ones in New York -- abdominal pain, gastrointestinal distress, and inflammation of the heart.